20 Dec 2021

Today's sports news: What you need to know

1:28 pm on 20 December 2021

Italian sailing syndicate Luna Rossa are the latest team to confirm their challenge for the next America's Cup.

Luna Rossa announced their challenge had been accepted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in a brief social media post late on Sunday.

Emirates Team New Zealand v Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. Race 3, Day 2 of the America's Cup presented by Prada. Auckland, New Zealand, Friday the 12th of March 2021. © Copyright photo: Chris Cameron / www.photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport / Chris Cameron

They joined Team UK, the Challenger of Record, and returning Swiss syndicate Alinghi to take the number of confirmed challengers for the 2024 Cup to three.

Challenger of Record for this year's Cup regatta in Auckland, the Italian team made it all the way to the Cup match before suffering a 7-3 defeat to Team New Zealand.

But Luna Rossa could be set to bring extra firepower to the 2024 event, with reports of a potential partnership with Italian Formula One team Ferrari.

Team UK already have a partnership with the Mercedes Formula One team, while Alinghi announced their return would be in conjunction with Red Bull Racing.

American Magic were the only team who competed in this year's event yet to confirm their participation in 2024, although they had indicated they would likely be returning.

Covid forces Robinson out of World Cup

New Zealand alpine skier Alice Robinson has been forced to withdraw from the latest World Cup after testing positive for Covid-19.

Alice Robinson NZ skier

Alice Robinson. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 20-year-old, who is preparing for February's Beijing Winter Olympics, will miss the Super G and the Giant Slalom events at this week's World Cup round in France.

Robinson confirmed the news on social medial.

"Unfortunately I've tested positive to Covid-19 this past week while at my base in Italy and have been in isolation since," Robinson said.

"This means I will probably have to sit out the 2 GS races this coming week in Courchevel which I am extremely disappointed about.

"I'm doing fine and just aiming to recover as quickly as I can and try to get back on the slopes as soon as possible."

Robinson earned a career-best Super G result with a fourth-place finish at recent World Cup round in Switzerland.

It's likely her next event will be the Lienz Giant Slalom in Austria before the 2022 Winter Olympics.

City on top of EPL

Manchester City will spend Christmas Day on top of the Premier League after Joao Cancelo scored one goal and made another as they overwhelmed struggling Newcastle United 4-0.

The visitors were gifted the opening goal in the fifth minute when Cancelo acrobatically crossed for Ruben Dias to head into an empty net after a mix-up between Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and defender Ciaran Clarke.

Pep Guardiola celebrates with Manchester City players.

Manchester City celebrate. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Cancelo added a second in the 27th minute, cutting in from the right wing and capping off a solo run with a stunning strike to silence the home crowd.

Newcastle were denied what looked to be a clear penalty on the half-hour mark when City keeper Ederson clattered into Ryan Fraser, but neither referee Martin Atkinson nor the VAR decided to intervene.

Despite starting the second half with a pair of fine saves from Dubravka, things got worse for Newcastle as Mahrez turned home Kevin De Bruyne's cross from the left wing with a deft volley in the 63rd minute to notch his 50th Premier League goal.

Newcastle had introduced Allan Saint-Maximin off the bench at halftime for Joe Willock but they only managed one effort on target over the 90 minutes - a close-range header from Callum Wilson that forced a superb one-handed save from Ederson.

Sterling's industrious performance on the wing was rewarded in the 86th as Gabriel Jesus drove the ball across the goal and the England forward slammed it home to complete the rout.

The dominant performance keeps City top on 44 points, four ahead of second-placed Liverpool, who visit Tottenham Hotspur later on Sunday, and six clear of Chelsea in third. Newcastle stay second-bottom on 10 points.

- Reuters

Chelsea loses ground in title race

Chelsea's title ambitions suffered a further blow after they were held to a goalless draw by Wolverhampton Wanderers at a misty Molineux Stadium on Sunday, a match the visitors had asked the Premier League to postpone before kickoff.

Chelsea trail leaders Manchester City by six points following another frustrating afternoon after their midweek draw against Everton, as they created few chances and rarely troubled Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa.

The home side came closest to breaking the deadlock when Daniel Podence had the ball in the back of the net, but the effort was correctly ruled out after striker Raul Jimenez had strayed offside in the build-up.

Chelsea, who had only six players on the bench including two goalkeepers after seven COVID-19 infections depleted their squad, had asked the Premier League to postpone the game.

Manager Thomas Tuchel said Chelsea was "angry" at the decision to play, one he felt was "very hard to understand".

- Reuters

Breakers search for first win

New Zealand Breakers have slumped to their fifth straight loss to open their Australian NBL basketball campaign.

The defending champions, Melbourne United, proved far too good yesterday, winning 83-60 at Melbourne's John Cain Arena.

Coach Dan Shamir says there's no silver bullet as to try and turn their form around.

"These are tough times and we have to figure it out," Shamir said.

The team's next game is on Boxing Day against Tasmania.

Kerr blazes half century in Supersmash

Defending champions the Wellington Blaze, have continued their excellent form in the women's T20 Supersmash cricket competition.

They proved too good for the Canterbury Magicians in Wellington yesterday winning by 45 runs.

The win was the team's third in a row.

Amelia Kerr of the Wellington Blaze during the Super Smash T20 Cricket match,

Amelia Kerr. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Blaze superstar Amelia Kerr top-scored with 50 for the hosts while fellow White Ferns spinner Leigh Kasperek claimed 3-21 with the ball.

In the men's game, the Firebirds couldn't replicate that success, losing to the Canterbury Kings by six wickets.

Auckland hosts Northern at Eden Park's outer oval today - a match closed to spectators under Auckland's current COVID protection framework settings.